The supply of Covid vaccines is now exceeding demand in rural areas and big cities, even as states lift remaining eligibility restrictions, open walk-in clinics and even offer shots to out-of-state residents.

It's a jarring twist after months during which vaccine-seekers crashed appointment websites seeking shots and stalked pharmacy counters hoping to snag leftover doses. And it’s a problem that state and federal officials are rushing to address with only limited success.

On Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, EMS personnel are bringing the vaccine to any house or business with more than three people. New Orleans partnered with a bar in a "shots for shots" promotion. North Dakota officials are piloting pop-up clinics at Walmart. And states like Georgia, Mississippi and Montana are weighing what to do about surplus vaccine that could go to waste as they face more open slots than ever before.

The challenge comes at a crucial point in the pandemic with more contagious variants surging across the country and crisis fatigue combining with misinformation to harden resistance among the holdouts. Governors say they need more help from the Biden administration to reach the vaccine hesitant. But in most cases, state officials aren’t waiting.

“We’re trying to really meet people where they’re at — and that may be [a] physical location, it may be just making sure their questions are answered,” said Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer.

The Biden administration touts the $3 billion it has already invested in addressing vaccine hesitancy and its new volunteer corps charged with helping boost vaccine confidence, but governors, senators and public health experts contend that the White House can’t rely on the same strategy it used when supply was constrained.

“It’s a huge mistake,” said New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. “Communication from this administration is inconsistent and rare.”

After steadily increasing for three months, the pace of vaccinations has flattened at around 3 million a day, and the national total obscures pockets of the country like New Hampshire, North Dakota and Virginia that have more open appointment slots than they've yet experienced. Several states are now administering fewer 75 percent of the doses they receive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A recent report from the federal health department's assistant secretary for planning and evaluation found that more than 25 percent of people across Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming expressed reservations about being vaccinated. Roughly 16 percent of all American adults are hesitant to get a coronavirus vaccine, according to a recent Census Bureau report.

Officials in Mercer County, Ohio, and Albany, Georgia, have scuttled mass vaccination sites because there isn’t enough demand. New York City, where residents can now get vaccinated beneath a giant blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History, has seen a marked decline in demand, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

In Billings — Montana’s largest city — three-quarters of vaccine appointments are open, said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and vaccine hesitancy is a leading reason why.

Tester said trusted members of the community will have to play a leading role in winning over the unvaccinated, but added he’d also like the CDC to more explicitly link vaccines to a return to normal life.

Their strategy "needs to evolve,” he said. “It needs to be based on science, but it also needs to be based on common sense.”

With the exception of the Washington, D.C. suburbs and Richmond, demand in Virginia has precipitously declined since the state made all adult residents eligible for shots, said Danny Avula, the state vaccine coordinator.

“We’ve hit this demand wall,” he said. “We’ve reached a point where our efforts and strategies are going to need to change.”

The state plans to allocate more vaccines to primary care providers, a move Sununu also touted, as surveys have shown many people are more likely to be persuaded by their own physician.

The Biden administration says it has been aggressive and nimble in targeting vaccine hesitancy. Earlier this month, it christened the Covid-19 Community Corps to preach the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The all-volunteer group is supposed to amplify the government’s vaccine messaging within their own communities, and lead on-the-ground efforts to combat skepticism and misinformation.

“We continue to expand our infrastructure to conduct targeted outreach based in data and research to focus on increasing uptake in communities — most importantly, relying on local trusted voices and messengers who Americans listen to,” a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said in a statement.

But with demand ebbing in so many states, some say the efforts need to be expanded.

“As long as there are places with more supply than demand, then there is more work to be done on demand,” said Marc Lipsitch, a Harvard epidemiologist. “If a strategy is only sort of working, which I think is the case, we could do better by experimenting with different approaches.”

In Billings — Montana’s largest city — three-quarters of vaccine appointments are open, said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and vaccine hesitancy is a leading reason why.

Tester said trusted members of the community will have to play a leading role in winning over the unvaccinated, but added he’d also like the CDC to more explicitly link vaccines to a return to normal life.

Their strategy "needs to evolve,” he said. “It needs to be based on science, but it also needs to be based on common sense.”

With the exception of the Washington, D.C. suburbs and Richmond, demand in Virginia has precipitously declined since the state made all adult residents eligible for shots, said Danny Avula, the state vaccine coordinator.

“We’ve hit this demand wall,” he said. “We’ve reached a point where our efforts and strategies are going to need to change.”

The state plans to allocate more vaccines to primary care providers, a move Sununu also touted, as surveys have shown many people are more likely to be persuaded by their own physician.

The Biden administration says it has been aggressive and nimble in targeting vaccine hesitancy. Earlier this month, it christened the Covid-19 Community Corps to preach the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The all-volunteer group is supposed to amplify the government’s vaccine messaging within their own communities, and lead on-the-ground efforts to combat skepticism and misinformation.

“We continue to expand our infrastructure to conduct targeted outreach based in data and research to focus on increasing uptake in communities — most importantly, relying on local trusted voices and messengers who Americans listen to,” a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said in a statement.

But with demand ebbing in so many states, some say the efforts need to be expanded.

“As long as there are places with more supply than demand, then there is more work to be done on demand,” said Marc Lipsitch, a Harvard epidemiologist. “If a strategy is only sort of working, which I think is the case, we could do better by experimenting with different approaches.”
Source: Politico
COvid 19 vac by https://unsplash.com/photos/cVaTkeN_xqI is licensed under Unsplash
©2021, The American Dossier. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy